2016 UK Holiday Shopping Habits

October 17, 2016
By Marketing

No impact on consumer Christmas spending habits following Brexit vote

Consumers are set to shrug off worries over Brexit this Christmas with shoppers planning to spend more than they did in 2015, according to new research from Rubicon Project, one of the world’s largest advertising marketplaces.

According to Rubicon Project’s study, anticipated spend for Christmas this year is £748 per person, an increase on 2015, when anticipated spend was £732 per person. Overall, 77 percent of respondents to this year’s survey said they plan to spend the same or more, whilst just 23 percent plan to spend less on their Christmas shopping.

Prior to the UK’s decision to vote to leave the EU in June, many leading industry figures predicted the retail sector would face tough times following a vote for Brexit. However, data from Rubicon Project’s second annual Christmas Consumer Pulse survey shows the result of the referendum has yet to impact consumer confidence.

Millennials and parents remain particularly buoyant moving into the holiday season, with 41 and 32 percent respectively saying they plan to increase their spending for Christmas.

Interestingly, the season of giving generously is also one where shoppers like to treat themselves – nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Christmas shoppers typically buy a gift for themselves, and those doing so plan to spend an average of £209. Millennials and parents both excel in the category of self-spending, with 38 percent of millennials and 28 percent of parents planning to buy gifts for themselves, spending an average of £257 and £241 respectively.

Online shopping reaches parity with digital shopping for Brits

In a big revelation, online shopping will be as popular with UK consumers as in-store shopping this holiday season, according to new research from Rubicon Project, one of the world’s largest advertising marketplaces.

Rubicon Project’s second annual Christmas Consumer Pulse Poll found 76% of shoppers plan to shop online, equal to the amount that plan to shop in-store. In a further revelation of the online shopping fervour, almost 9 in 10 (88%) shoppers will shop and/or research their Christmas purchases online.

Notably, a segment of shoppers have made the complete digital shift to online, with nearly one-quarter (24%) not planning on doing any of their Christmas shopping in-store.

The study also found the UK shopper’s most popular retail destinations this Christmas season. The top 2 – Argos, Marks & Spencer, respectively – both have a devoted digital presence with which their brick-and-mortar stores operate symbiotically, whilst the 3rd most popular destination, eBay, transacts exclusively online.

This parity in online vs. in-store can be in no small way attributed to the growth of smartphone penetration in the UK (77% in 2016, according to eMarketer), and as a corollary, the use of smartphones for retail browsing and purchasing. When stating their reasons for shopping on mobile, the top 3 reasons consumers gave were convenience, better prices and easy price comparison.

Tech savvy Millennials lead Christmas shopping

The study found the anticipated spend for millennials has reached an average of £870 per person, compared to £722 last year. This is now significantly more than non-millennials, who plan to spend an average of £717 at Christmas. It also represents the first time millennials have taken the lead – in 2015, Rubicon Project’s same consumer survey found non-millennials leading the Christmas spending, at £735 per person.

The study also revealed that nearly half (45%) of all shoppers will make a Christmas purchase on their mobile device. This is being driven largely by two demographics – 75% of millennials and 66% of parents will do at least some of their Christmas shopping on a mobile device.

In what can be interpreted as a familiarity with and understanding of digital environments, it was also uncovered that millennials and parents are the most likely to interact with digital advertising. 81% of millennials and 82% of parents are more likely to engage with tailored ads and nearly half (46 percent and 47 percent respectively) are likely to share their personal information for a more personalised advertising experience. The opportunity for savings in a costly time of year also appealed; 39 percent of parents and 38% of millennials are both motivated to click on ads offering sales and discounts around Christmas, and 28% of millennials have clicked an online ad in just the past week, double that of non-millennials.

Survey methodology

Rubicon Project engaged global polling firm Penn Schoen Berland to conduct 1,000 interviews among Christmas shoppers in the UK. The survey has a margin of error of 3.1%. The interviews were conducted from August 23 to August 25, 2016.

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